I’ve recently invested (I like to think of it as an investment) in two weighted blankets for myself. Having a trauma history and regularly suffering from severe dissociative episodes as well as more run-of-the-mill anxiety, I figured a weighted blanket would be worth a shot.
I’ve struggled to find research about the use of weighted blankets for those with a trauma history. Any information is very had to find and, aside from a few people who’ve used one or want one, very few people even know what a weighted blanket is.
So, let me go back a step. A weighted blanket is, quite literally, a heavy blanket. It’s a blanket that’s sewn with pockets and is commonly stuffed with poly pellets. From the information available online, it seems that the recommended weight for a blanket is ten percent of the users body weight plus five hundred grams.
Most of the information I’ve found online is about the use of weighted blankets for children with autism or ADD/ADHD. These blankets, apparently, help to settle or soothe them and/or focus. It all seems to be based around Deep Pressure Touch…. which, when googled, produces very little information. I’m lacking access to databases at the moment because I’m not currently studying. This kind of suggests that I’ve spent a large amount of money on blankets they may be of absolutely no use to me.
However, I do think the weight of the blankets will be calming, settling, soothing and grounding. I’ve just yet to test them. I have to wait until I’m dissociated to see if they work and how well they work.
I have one large (single bed) sized blanket that weighs eight kilos and will most definitely be kept at home. The plan for this blanket is for B (an alter) to use it when she’s scared and for the rest of us to use it if needed. I’ve worked with B around having a really heavy blanket that she can hide under. It’s so heavy that no one can lift it off her, but she can get out from under it if she wants to (this only works because she’s seven years old). This should help her to feel safe as well as managing the flashbacks and anxiety.
Along with the above blanket I also ordered a smaller four kilo blanket (below). Providing the weight of the blankets is grounding, my plan is to ask to leave the smaller blanket with my psychologist so we can use it there. Being four kilos, it’s not something I want to have to cary to every single session, along with a journal, pencil case, teddy bear, wallet, water bottle etc. I’m also going back to respite next week and will be taking the smaller blanket with me.
I also received a free one kilo extra small blanket. It’s quite cute and would be nice to play with, but the weight isn’t enough to be of much use (I don’t think). I’m not sure what I’ll do with this one yet.
As you can see, on the single blanket and the 96cm square blanket there are strips of fabric sewn on. The site I purchased the blankets from called them “fiddle tags”. They are a variety of textured pieces of fabric that are sewn on and can be played or “fiddled” with. As well as something for us to play with, I think they could be useful for grounding – feeling each piece, describing the texture and the colour. I’m thinking of hunting down some scraps of fabric so that I can add some more.
Although weighted blankets cost a lot of money, I figured that it was money worth spending. If having one of these blankets across my shoulders or in my lap can help get me grounded, help me become more present – it’s worth it. If I fail to become more present using my usual grounding techniques, often, an ambulance will be called. I’ll be transported to the emergency department of the nearest hospital, be examined against my will (because often I’m unable to move or talk), and allowed to lie in a hospital bed until I’m less dissociated and more functional. Uncool to say the least. If these blankets provide another way to prevent a trip to the emergency department – money doesn’t matter so much!